Catnip Harvest Time: Does Dehydrating Herbs in the Microwave Work?

By Julie Sews - 4:09:00 PM

As I stated in my last post we had to hastily harvest anything we could due to a possible freeze.  I decided to cut down our catnip leaving about 6" of the plant and we brought all the catnip in to dehydrate it.   Our cat was beyond excited about our catnip harvest.  Especially when we started hydrating!   My husband said it reeked of catnip.  I think our cat got a contact high because we was running around with the crazies all night.  I felt like a dealer hiding the baggy from him and having him trying to figure out if I was "holding".  With the baggies piling up in my drawer that looks like pot, I couldn't help but think how funny it would be if the cops tried to come in and bust me only to find out it's catnip.

I have always just dehydrated herbs here and there in our dehydrator, but we had a lot of stuff to dehydrate this time and it was late, so I was wondering if there was a better way or just how to store the herbs until I could finish dehydrating them.  So I turned to our book "The Backyard Homestead"  by Carleen Madigan, (which I highly recommend it's one of the best homesteading books I've seen so far), to see what she said about drying herbs.  She gave one option as dehydrating in the microwave.  She said it only takes minutes in the microwave.  "Sweet..."  I thought and tried it per her instructions dispute the fact that she said to be careful 
about not getting them to dry because they could start on fire.  Well..   mine actually did catch on fire! After my experience, I think I know how to still utilize the microwave but more safely.  Read below for how to utilize the speed of the microwave safely. 

Boy was Mr cat excited about our catnip harvest!   We used our table for excess harvest from our garden we couldn't fit in the kitchen (that's how much I harvested yesterday)  all the greens are catnip.
How I Microwaved My Herbs to Dehydrate It
  1. Take the leaves off of the steams
  2. I used a paper towel underneth and spread the leaves out evenly on it
  3. I nuked it for 1min 10secs once checked on it spread it out more and nuked it again for 1 min and 10 sec usually it was done at this point.
How I Think You Can Use Your Microwave to Dehydrate Safely
  1. Don't use a paper towel (that's what caught on fire for me)
  2. Only nuke it for 1 min and 30 secs then put it into a dehydrator to finish (it's not dry at this point so it couldn't start on fire and it still speeds up the process. 
  3. Make sure to clean your microwave thoroughly after you are done or in between large batches, because it's overly dried herbs that start on fire.  If you had left say one in the microwave and kept using over and over... you might have a problem.  I think though if you do all of the above you don't need to worry about any fires and will dry your herbs way faster.
Charlie stoned on catnip after playing with bubbles: Yes I do think my cat has a catnip problem, kitty rehab?
Catnip Branches as a Toy?  Oh Yeah.... I love cheap toys I can grow!
One added bonus of growing catnip I would have never thought of it weren't for my husband (who I swear thinks like a cat) is to use the stems left over that are long as a toy.  Charlie loved it!  It's like cat dancer but better.  Extra bonus is you don't have to worry about the cat swallowing anything from the toy, (that actually happened to me cat sitting once) and obviously it's not poisonous (they use steams in low grade catnip). Want to see some of the cat toys I've made?  Click here.

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  1. We have our herbs (oregano, rosemery, mint) hanging in our kitchen.

    Drying in the microwave sounds interesting, but doesn't it cook the herbs?

    When I was looking into drying tomatoes, the warning about using the oven was that since many ovens don't go below 175*, the tomatoes get cooked while drying, which isn't desirable. Maybe that isn't an issue with herbs.

  2. The Author of "The Backyard Homestead" said that you can only dehydrate items in the microwave with very little moisture, so I would only try herbs. They do cook the herbs (they were steaming as I took it out) but usually in the dehydrator it looks to me like it's cooking and then it starts to get dry. It took about 45 min to dehydrate using the method I described in this post, it seemed to speed up the process but I haven't timed it using only a dehydrator. Hope this helps!


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